Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Waves of Change

Last night a couple girl friends and myself went to what was formerly known as Cirivello's Sports Stop. I hadn't been since I was a kid but have fond memories of end of the season sports team parties and more importantly, my first ever win from a claw machine! Sadly, rumor has it that the lease was up on the building and the landlord unexpectedly leased it to a new tenant leaving Cirivello's no option but to close their doors after decades of being a Long Beach staple. 

The doors re-opened last week with a new name, The Station. 
It's sad to see the old Cirivello's sign covered up and it's heartbreaking to know that it wasn't handled as best it could be but it didn't stop my friends and I from having a fun night. 
Hopefully Cirivello's finds a way to find a new place to call home but until then, The Station seems like a fun place to get a drink with some friends. They're still working out kinks in the menu and are looking forward to having a grand opening soon. Until then, I wanted to share this article that I found discussing the closing of not just Cirivello's but two other of Long Beach's favorites as well. 

June 1, 2013
By: John Grossi

"This week, for varying reasons, three East Long Beach businesses closed their doors.  For thousands of locals growing up playing baseball (and other sports) in the East Long Beach/Lakewood area, Cirivello’s Sports Stop, D&D Sporting Goods, and Lakewood Batting Cages were more than just buildings on the street; they were icons.  And for good reason.  For over 25 years these businesses and the families that owned them, have been an integral part of the journey for one of the greatest baseball towns and family communities in the country.

When Sean Burrough’s led his team to back to back championships in the Little League World Series back in ’92 and ’93, there was no question about where to hold the viewing parties during the game, or for that matter, the end of year celebration when the wide-eyed kids got back from Williamsport, Pennsylvania.  Cirivello’s was the go-to place for pizza, drinks, arcade, and post-game chatter for youth soccer, baseball, and basketball all over the city.  

Owner Angelo Picarelli created a family environment that had a heavy impact on many, like me, who look back with nothing but positive memories from our youth. How many of us took the walk over from Heartwell Park after a hard-fought baseball game or soccer match, only to embark on the more important conquest of who could win the most tickets in the game room?  Two years ago, when Angelo decided to retire, it was a no brainer for Matt Paige and Danny Harris, two local guys who grew up themselves playing football and baseball in East Long Beach, to purchase the business and continue on the Cirivello’s tradition for their own families, and for all of us.  Cirivello’s seemed like a place that needed to be in Long Beach forever…

In one of our recent issues for LB908 we sat down with the 2012 Pony League World Champions.  A gritty, good-natured group of guys who now carry the torches in the Millikan and Wilson baseball programs.  These kids, like many from our area before them, have experienced great success on the diamond.  However, I can guarantee you some of their favorite baseball moments, like all of ours, occurred outside the field.  It’s those moments of anticipation that we remember most, when Winter is turning to Spring, baseball season is two weeks away, and our dads take us to D&D to take a peak at the brand new EXO bat that just came out, or to buy a sleeve of fresh, new, shiny, white baseballs, or to replace our little league socks and rubber cleats for Pony league’s stirrups and metal spikes.

I remember when I first wanted to become a catcher as a nine year old, and my parents took me to D&D for some gear.  I don’t remember exactly who helped me, but we can be sure it was either one of the owners, Dianne or Luanne, or one of their daughters, or granddaughters.  The two families that owned D&D for so many years, never left the shop, and always greeted you with a smile.  I was ushered into the special catcher’s gear room, and was fitted for my personal gear, helmet and all.  I remember spending the next 3 days with that gear glued to my body.  I walked all around the house and the neighborhood learning to “become one with the gear.”  I told my parents that when Paul Lo Duca (then catcher for the Dodgers) chased after a foul ball it was like he didn’t even feel his gear.  That memory started at D&D Sporting Goods…

Finally, even though the Lakewood Batting Cages were not technically in Long Beach, they too will go out of business with the forever status as a Long Beach icon.  How about the six Long Beach major leaguers we profiled in our latest magazine?  You can bet that Aaron Hicks, James MacDonald, the D’Arnaud brothers, Mike Carp, and Chase Utley all took their first hacks in those cages.  

Those were the best practices, when the little league coach called you on a night you didn’t actually have field time and said “we’re going to the cages”—a two hour break from homework and a chance to play homerun derby with your friends over the fake fence within the cage.  Or how about the last round of the night when the coach would step in the cage and hit monster long balls to the amazement of you and your teammates. Long time owners, the Tyler family, provided a simple business, 1 token, 12 pitches, but those tokens churned out hundreds of college athletes, dozens of major leaguers, and thousands of baseball lovers in the 908’ zone.

It’s a bit of a sad day.  Three businesses that we grew up with and thought would be here forever are gone now.  It was an absolute pleasure knowing the great people that owned them and poured their blood, sweat, tears, and time into them, so that people like me and you could grow up in a positive youth baseball and family environment.  

This is also a great opportunity to remember why we love to support local businesses so much.  I don’t know about others, but I don’t have these same memories from shopping at Sports Chalet or eating at Pizza Hut.  There was something special about the people that helped you and took your order at Cirivello’s, Lakewood Batting Cages, and D&D.  There is also something very special about the hundreds of small businesses that still remain, working hard every day to make sure our East Long Beach memories continue to grow."

1 comment:

Stefana said...

I really ruined that picture.

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